Hoteliers will be forced to cut room rates as the looming recession bites, leading industry figures have predicted.
Experts have warned that cutting room rates is a dangerous move as moving prices back up can prove very difficult, but hoteliers at the autumn St Julian's Scholar debate at the Hyatt Regency London hotel on Friday said it was "inevitable".
Andrew McKenzie, managing director at The Vineyard at Stockcross and Caterer's Hotelier of the Year 2008, added: "The landscape of this recession is different from anything I've seen before.
"I'd like to think that our hotels, which operate in the four and five-star sectors, will maintain their rates, but I doubt it will happen. Consumers out there will start to cherry pick low room rates and we will miss out."
But Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain, argued that hoteliers should focus on value for money.
"We don't want customers to think we are giving hotel rooms away," he said. "In the last recession people thought they could come into a hotel and barter for a room. The last thing we want is for that to happen again.
"People aren't looking for cheapness at the top end - they can get that elsewhere," he added. "What they will continue to be looking for is value for money."
By Tom Vaughan
E-mail your comments to Tom Vaughan here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next hotel job here with Caterersearch.com jobs